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From rocky, lighthouse-studded shores to white-sand beaches, clifftops overlooking the world’s highest tides to a hip, urban capital, Nova Scotia offers a range of unique experiences for adventurous travelers.
First-time visitors to Nova Scotia are often blown away by how diverse this geographically small province is. Whether you’re into exploring tiny fishing villages and gorging on fresh, off-the-boat seafood on the South Shore, hiking to hidden waterfalls and moose-spotting in Cape Breton, kayaking among geographical oddities, or memorable nights out in Halifax, this destination never disappoints. Here’s how to see the best of Nova Scotia.
At True North Destinations in Pleasant Bay, on the western coast of Cape Breton Island, you can sleep in a luxurious geodesic dome that overlooks the crashing Atlantic Ocean. Each dome has a private deck with a hot tub, some have barrel saunas, and all are outfitted with a king-sized bed, bathroom and small kitchen. Perfectly located for whale-watching excursions, hiking the spectacular Skyline Trail (where you may well see moose grazing), and dips in the ocean, these domes make the perfect base for exploring the world-famous Cabot Trail.
Seeing Cape Chignecto Provincial Park from the sea is pretty spectacular, and on a day-long kayaking trip with NovaShores Adventures you get to explore the bays and beaches via a sea kayak. The coastline here is known for its towering cliffs, sea stacks, lava tubes and natural arches, and when you’re in a kayak you get the best view of these unique rock features.
This unparalleled dining experience, at Burntcoat Head Park in the Bay of Fundy, happens on the ocean floor when the world’s highest tide is out. To begin, you go out with a local forager to touch and taste the bounty right there in the park, before meeting the chef who’ll guide you through a decadent seafood lunch with local wine and beer pairings, followed by a guided walk on the ocean floor. The main event is a beautiful, chef-prepared three-course dinner as you watch the tide coming in, followed by a campfire on the tidal flats.
The Nova Scotia coastline has dozens of beautiful white-sand beaches and an internationally respected surf scene. Centered around Lawrencetown and Martinique beaches just outside Halifax, the fun and friendly local summer surf scene is a great place for beginners, but it’s when the temperature drops that the swells increase and the waves get bigger. Pro-surfers dry-suit up and surf well into winter. There are several local surf schools and shops where you can rent boards and equipment.
When the Bay of Fundy tide rushes into the Shubenacadie River, it creates a tidal bore with massive waves, and when you’re out on those waves in an inflatable boat hanging on for dear life, that gives you one helluva rush. Head out with Tidal Bore Rafting Resort in Urbania, and you can go out on the river and ride the tidal bore, then retreat to one of their chalets and warm up in the outdoor hot tub.
There are so many fabulous restaurants in the Nova Scotia capital, helmed by creative and inspiring chefs. Tiny Bar Kismet is heaven for seafood lovers, with a killer cocktail menu. The Highwayman serves Spanish-inspired tapas and is a great place to gorge on local oysters. It started as a pop-up restaurant run by chef friends, but Hop Scotch Dinner Club soon became one of the hottest places in the city to eat the best of what’s produced in, or caught off the shores of, Nova Scotia. For exquisite maritime fare by renowned Canadian chefs Anthony Walsh and Jamie MacAulay, head to the newly opened DRIFT restaurant in the new Queens Marque development. The menu is inspired by the surrounding terroir and features dishes such as Nova Scotia lobster bisque and slow-cooked sustainable blue salmon.
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